Paterno Statue Will Stand, for Now, Polarizing the Penn State Community

Members of Penn State's Board of Trustees decided to leave Joe Paterno's statue standing, according to sources with firsthand knowledge of the trustees' private discussions this week.

The trustees' reluctance to remove the statue is reportedly motivated by a desire not to offend alumni and students who admire the late coach, despite findings about his role in the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse cover-up scandal. However, some trustees said they believed the statue eventually would have to be torn down.

The dilemma highlights the tragedy of a formerly prestigious educational institution with a nationally renowned athletic reputation that now has been tainted by the discovery of Paterno's role in covering up the child sexual abuse allegations against Sandusky.

And the community is starting to show signs of increasing polarization as some former coaches, commentators and members of the public have demanded the removal of the Paterno, while others – such as the trustees have been supportive of the man who brought so much pride to the community through his coaching of the university’s teams.   

Such polarization is best observed in the fact that, on Saturday, a campus security guard stood a few paces from the Paterno statue outside Beaver Stadium, keeping watch for would-be vandals. A sign on a wall behind the statue reads: COACH EDUCATOR HUMANITARIAN. At the statue's feet, someone placed a homemade sign that says, "Remember: He was a man. Not a god!!!"

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